TAMPA—The Caps’ season is on life support following a 3-2 loss to the Lightning in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final on Saturday night.
Doomed by a slow start, Alex Ovechkin and Co. fell into a three-goal hole less than 21 minutes in and spent the rest of the night fighting back.
Ovechkin scored a goalie-out goal with 1:36 remaining to pull the Caps within striking distance, but they couldn’t squeeze the equalizer past Andrei Vasilevskiy, who made sure the Bolts became the first team in this series to win on home ice.
The Lightning now leads three-games-to-two and can punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Final with a win Monday night in Washington.
Tarik’s three stars of the game:
1-Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning
This honor is more for his body of work in this series. After a couple of average performances to start the ECF, Vasilevskiy has been the Bolts’ best player. And it hasn’t really been that close.
Vasilevskiy (28 saves) was at his best in the closing minutes after Alex Ovechkin scored a goalie-out goal late to pull the Caps within a goal.
2-Ryan Callahan, Lightning
The fourth line winger had not recorded a point in nine games coming into Saturday. Then he produced his best playoff performance in the Bolts' biggest game of the season, notching a goal and a primary assist. He was the only Bolt to record more than a single point.
3-Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals
Kuznetsov redirected a Matt Niskanen point shot early in the second period to trim the Caps’ deficit to 3-1.
The goal marked Kuzy’s 22nd point of these playoffs (11 goals, 11 assists)—a new franchise record. Ovechkin is second with 21 points in 2009 and third with 20 this postseason.
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MORE CAPITALS STORIES:
- Where's the call?: Non-call on Steven Stamkos leads to Lightning goal
- Kuzy stays hot: Kuznetsov scores deflection goal on Vasilevskiy
- LIneup shuffling: Burakovsky benched scratched in Game 5